Hamlet and Pride & Prejudice performed in Rep on Main Stage, A First at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
For the first time in its 20 year history, The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival offer productions in true rep, alternating two plays with the same cast in the same theatre: Hamlet and Pride and Prejudice will play in rep July 19 through August 7 on the PSF Main Stage in the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University in Center Valley.
“Rep adds another dimension to the aesthetic experience,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director who is directing Hamlet. “Part of the magic of live theatre is watching the transformation of the actor into the character. In rep, we get to see the same actor make yet another transformation – one made in a unique creative process that is only available at a few select theatres around the country.
“PSF aims to become a destination theatre over time, and rep is a key component, so patrons visiting from some distance can see multiple productions in a single visit,” he says. “On balance, everyone wins – mostly the audience.”
On directing Hamlet, Mulcahy says: “The language in this play is the most powerful substance I know. It’s the code that carries an incredible range of social energy. Its astonishing insight makes it intoxicating.”
Erin Hurley, long-time PSF director of the Festival’s WillPower touring productions and children’s plays, directs Pride and Prejudice. “Jane Austen illuminates ordinary life in ways that are both intimately familiar and completely enchanting,” she says. “She explores the rich terrain of romance with wit and wisdom – and a delightful use of language.”
John Jory’s adaptation of the Austen classic is considered a “mastery of synthesis with Austen’s ironic sense of humor fully intact.”
The cast for the Rep company includes many Festival favorites and a few newcomers. Two actors, who appeared at PSF for the first time in last year’s Romeo & Juliet, return with Justin Adams as Hamlet and Wickham in Pride & Prejudice and David Kenner, who played Romeo last year, playing Horatio/Mr. Bingley. Mairin Lee is making her debut at the Festival as Ophelia; she will also play Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice. Another first timer, Michael Brusasco is appearing as Laertes and Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice.
Festival favorite, Greg Wood will be appearing in his 24th and 25th festival productions this summer as Claudius and Mr. Gardiner. His real-life wife, Susan Riley Stevens is playing queen Gertrude and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Wayne S. Turney who spent last summer searching for his lost children as Erronius in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, is playing Polonius and Mr. Bennet. Jo Twiss, the nurse in Romeo & Juliet last season, is playing the Player Queen in Hamlet and Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice.
Although the cast is doubling up for these productions, they are appearing on different sets, all designed by the same artists. Steve TenEyck, whose work in theatre, dance, opera, performance art and live event has been seen both nationally and internationally, serves as both the lighting and scenic designer. Sam Fleming, whose designs have been seen across America, is the costume designer. The sound designer is Matt Given, PSF’s production manager and resident sound designer. The wig and make-up design is by Michael Ferguson, who served in the same role for South Pacific, and The Comedy of Errors.
Artistic staff for Hamlet includes Broadway Fight Director Rick Sordelet, who directed PSF’s critically acclaimed production of Romeo & Juliet last season, and Dudley Knight serves dialect coach for Pride & Prejudice. Hannah Woodward serves as production stage manager.